Webinar takeaways: ETV’s advantage for businesses, investors, buyers, and policymakers

To help technology providers bring new innovative environmental technologies to market, the European Commission’s Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) programme offers third-party validation of environmental performance, providing credibility and competitive advantage. At a recent webinar, experts and users of ETV presented the advantages of the scheme for businesses, procurers and investors, as well as setting out some of the support available for navigating the process.

“ETV helps manufacturers prove the reliability of their claims and helps technology purchasers identify the innovations that suit their needs,” said Marten Pecanka of LGI Sustainable Innovation and the ETV Secretariat, explaining the steps in the ETV process. ETV brings competitive advantage to new players, superior products that may be more expensive than the conventional alternatives, and in situations where there is no third-party confirmation of performance through standards or certification.

Since the pilot, ETV covered three technological fields – water treatment and monitoring, energy technologies, and materials, waste and resources. Four new technology areas are set to be launched this fall -  soil and groundwater monitoring and remediation, cleaner production and processes, environmental technologies in agriculture and air pollution monitoring and abatement.

First-hand experience and lessons learned

Raphael Restoy presented the company BioAzul’s experience of using ETV, and what the scheme can bring to businesses, investors and buyers. The company’s Richwater project developed a system to treat and reclaim wastewater for use in agricultural irrigation. “We needed to provide guarantees to our customers on the reliability of using reclaimed wastewater,” he said, “and this was something we could do with ETV verification.”

Investors need confidence to put their money in any venture, and “if consumers refuse to buy produce irrigated with reclaimed water, farmers will not be willing to buy our equipment,” he said. Validation carried out by an external body proved the reliability of their system. The information provided on results, verified by the laboratory and VB, ensures the integrity of the data. And being backed by the EC adds to the credibility of the results.

“Getting a ‘green sticker’ is an added value of ETV,” he said. “The verification report, with the data it contains, is a very relevant marketing tool we show to our clients to prove our treatment’s performance.”

In terms of lessons learned, he explained that it can be a long process. “It took us 2 years, so my recommendation is start as soon as possible,” he said. The role of the Verification Body is also important, and he emphasised the support he received from IETU in Poland.

The case for procurers and businesses

“To enter a market, technology suppliers typically need to show compliance with regulations, capture the attention of potential buyers, prove competitive advantage and demonstrate that it meets users’ needs,” said Izabella Ratman-Klosinska, from the Polish Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas (IETU), and who leads the LIFEproETV project to improve ETV’s market acceptance. ETV addresses this potential “information trap”. In particular, the ETV Statement of Verification guarantees environmental added value that might fall outside existing standards or certification schemes.

ETV’s business case covers five areas: accelerating innovation for sustainable industry, supporting green and innovation public procurement, de-risking green innovation investments (addressing due diligence through third-party information as an external data provider), fostering circular supply chains and business models (by offering a technology-neutral standard to flexibly prove performance for reuse or secondary raw materials), and internalising technological performance into organisations’ environmental performance (aiding choice of solutions and offering proofs of compliance).

“When it comes to public buyers, one bad experience can damage the image of an environmental technology for a very long time,” said Jacques Mèhu, from Provademse Insavalor, a platform supported by the French national institute of applied sciences (INSA). For Green Public Procurement – and Innovation Procurement more generally – ETV provides proof of technical performance, guarantees green performance, demonstrates innovation and functions as a de-risking tool for public buyers. He explained the potential for ETV to help at every stage of the procurement process, from preparation, planning and defining the specifications, to the final award and even performance of the contract.

Public support and further potential

Pierre Henry, from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) referenced opportunities for innovation stemming from the European Green Deal: the 35 actions of the Circular Economy Action Plan, covering key value chains from plastics and textiles to food and water or electronics and ICT, and the Zero Pollution Action Plan adopted this year.

“So where does technology fit into this? What is needed is not just development of new technologies,” he said, “but demonstrating good performance, with accurate, reliable information for investors and users – and these are the main objectives of ETV.”

While the ETV process can be a significant investment (approximately €10,000 to €40,000), there are many opportunities for support, explained Ignacio Calleja of EIT Raw Materials, a European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) innovation community with over 300 partners, including large companies, many SMEs, research organisations and academia. Companies can respond to EIT calls for projects needing support, and ETV funding will be included in LIFE and Horizon Europe programmes.

Finally, Serge Roudier, from the EU Joint Research Centre’s European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Bureau (EIPPCB), explained ETV’s potential in reducing industrial pollution. EU legislation seeks to reduce environmental impact based on “best available techniques” (BAT) and defined in BAT Reference documents (BREFs). Technologies verified by ETV can be considered earlier for preparation of BREFs, which could help them “fast-track” to recognition as BATs.

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For further information, including a step-by-step introduction to the ETV process, download the presentations.